Complex rock instrumental albums always seem to have comparatively complex names, so it should come as no surprise even to neophytes that one-time Band guitarist and current Levon Helm sideman Jim Weider’s Project Percolator falls into this category. But even with this collective’s genre-specific moniker, it’s clear from spinning Pulse that a great deal of care went into the music. The first three tracks are relentless, with drummer Rodney Holmes evoking an entire college marching band’s drum corps while Weider and Mitch Stein unfurl an entire Berklee School of Music semester’s worth of guitar landscaping on the absurdly titled opener “Squirrels in Paris.” The fourth track, “Dreamline,” not only serves as a mellow palate-cleanser, it does so while channeling Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes.” As though to prove that Project Percolator is really all about skilled musicians showcasing their considerable talents, the album’s lone track featuring vocals, “Release Yourself,” utilizes a trio of soulful singers whose sole job seems to be announcing the end of one guitar solo and the beginning of another.
Pulse incorporates a wide array of styles, though whether it’s funk, rock, or jazz, it’s all filtered through the group’s neo-prog idiom. There’s not a single song among the 11 here that isn’t expertly played. But critics of this sort of thing, who’ve groused about the loss of anything resembling soul when every single guitar lick, bass line, and cymbal nuance sound as though they’ve been plotted using scientific calculators and Venn diagrams, aren’t likely to be swayed by anything here. As for fans of the genre, though, Pulse should delight. www.jimweider.com.